Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Have blogrolls had their day?

Remember when we all started our blogs (those of you who have them) we accumulated these enormous long lists of blogs we liked? Did you check them out regularly? Me neither. Occasionally I would dip into them but these days I’m far more likely to look at a post someone has mentioned on Twitter.

The length of the list was, of course, because we hoped people would link back to us and that would improve our Google ranking. Now I know nothing about SEO but my website has consistently ranked top of searches for matching food and wine despite the fact I’ve almost totally ignored incoming links. (Presumably because it does what it says on the tin. It’s a site about - ta taaaa - food and wine matching.)

Then there is the question of friendships and loyalties, anxieties about who might be put out if you don’t include them. That’s understandable but it’s not a good reason for adding someone to your blogroll.

The only instance where I think it works is if your blog is dedicated to a specialist subject and you can pretty well cover all the interesting sites without forcing someone to scroll endlessly down the page. I do that on my cheese blog but even then I must confess weeks go by and I don’t check my own links.

So for Food and Wine Finds I’ve come up with a new strategy which is to select 4 or 5 blogs each month. I’ll also write a few lines about each which I hope will whet your appetite. Maybe you emarketeers will tell me that this is a lousy idea and I could build my traffic much more effectively by soliciting strategic blog links. But you know what? I don’t care.

Here’s December’s list.

The Pioneer Woman
The pioneer woman aka Ree Drummond seems to be some kind of superwoman. She abandoned a promising career in LA and went off with a cowboy. She has reinvented herself as a modern Fannie Farmer guiding the nation through her recipes step by beautifully photographed step. She even homeschools her kids. Every blogger will gnash their teeth with envy at her 13 million page views each month. Cult reading.

Pete Brown’s Beer Blog
OK. Let me declare an interest here. I know Pete (a former adman) and he’s a good bloke. But more important than that he’s a cracking writer - so good that it matters not a jot that he seldom posts any pictures. He also has robustly articulated views. Read this perfect send-up of a Daily Mail article.

Food Stories
I know how hard it is to keep up a blog let alone make it consistently varied and interesting so hats off to Helen Graves for regularly posting such sharply written content. from the intricacies of Sichuan cooking (her current obsession) to musings on the cultural significance of her local café.

The British Larder
This is the kind of blog I would create if I had the talent and time. It’s run and stunningly photographed by a former chef called Madalene Bonvini who writes with endearing seriousness about her art. Sheer class.

More food porn. Exquisite desserts from a young french pastry chef, Helen Dujardin (her real name? too good to be true) living in Charleston, South Carolina. Her recently published pumpkin semi-freddo with a side of gingerbread houses is as fairytale a creation as anyone could wish for in the run up to Christmas. Grapefruit and pomegranate in white tea jelly is even prettier.

So that’s your lot this month - more in January.

Do you read other people's blogrolls - or even your own?


  1. Blog rolls (esp those on every page) have no value any more (for Google) for site "indexing" or SEO. What really matters are relevant links to blogs from within posts - they are the most genuine (in theory), useful and appropriate. This sort of post is the most useful for your readers, and therefore for the better search engines. Keep up the good work and ignore all the silly SEO emails (we all get them)

  2. Ah, thankyou Robert. That's reassuring coming from an expert like you :)

  3. I found my blog roll less useful after RSS feeds became available. I deleted most of my blog roll as it was taking up space I felt I could use more efficiently. I'm now finding I use Twitter to go a blog and my RSS is less useful.

  4. At the moment, I've set up my blog roll so that it shows a changing selection of five of the blogs that I follow; it changes based upon how recently blogs have been updated. Since I follow a lot, the list changes almost every day. It's a useful way for me to check on new posts, so I hope the same is true for people reading my blog.

  5. What a great idea, i'll be checking those out!

  6. Ah, you're obviously much more on the ball, Roving Lemon. That would have been a simpler solution. But at least I get the fun of choosing which blogs to feature . . . Interesting you've gone that way too, Barbara (like the idea of that coconut and apricot clafouti btw. Wish it was apricot season here :(

  7. I just started my blog five months ago, and have had lots of anxiety about whom to add to my blogroll.

    At first I added clients I've coached on how to start a blog, but their blogs weren't that good yet so I took them off. Then I added friends, but took one off because his blog is just awful even though I adore him. Still trying to refine whom to add and for what reason.

  8. That's exactly my point, Dianne. It's a diplomatic minefield!

  9. Thanks very much Fiona! I am very flattered to be mentioned here. I agree with your points about blogrolls. When I first started I thought it very important to add people. I suppose it was to say 'I read you' or 'I like you' but now they seem pretty pointless. I mean, I never look at anyone else's blogroll. I also haven't looked at my own OR updated it much for about a year! Others do seem to think they are important though. I know everyone still gets a lot of 'please add me to your blogroll' requests.